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What are the most overrated attractions in New York?

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New York offers a plethora of attractions and activities – after all, it is the city that never sleeps. But there are so many that you might end up wondering how to squeeze everything into only a few days’ trip. To help you effectively plan your visit, we have a few recommendations about the most overrated attractions in New York that you can skip during your stay in the Big Apple. 

It’s not so much that these popular spots aren’t completely worth a visit. But the high prices versus lower quality experiences, plus crowds and long lines, can all spoil your experience and waste the precious time you have visiting NYC. 

So, skip these overrated attractions and instead enjoy a more VIP adventure in one of the best cities in the world! We would love to help you experience the wonders of our city, without the lines, the stress, or the waiting around. 

Check out our signature NYC experiences like our Broadway Insider Packages or our Premium Sports Events Packages. And always feel free to get in touch so we can help craft your perfect VIP NYC experience.  

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Staying in Times Square

Times Square is the city’s famous, lively, neon-lit landmark featured in many movies, pop culture and Instagram influencers’ feeds. Therefore, it might be a controversial pick. But New Yorkers agree: don’t stay there. 

It’s a tourist trap. It’s crowded, flashy, noisy, overpriced (watch out for your wallets, the pickpockets don’t sleep either), and the vibrant atmosphere can be just too much. 

If you have to cross it off your bucket list, we recommend a short visit after midnight or in the early morning to take photos and be on your way. 

For a more local, authentic experience, head west to the High Line instead.

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Going to the Top of Empire State Building

The Empire State Building, once the tallest in the world, is another popular New York icon. This means hoards of tourists with their selfie sticks packed in a small space at the observation deck at the top. Add long lines and overpriced tickets and you’re guaranteed to feel disappointed. 

Instead, head to the Top of the Rock. Not only are the crowds usually smaller but you can also admire the panorama of the Empire State Building and the New York skyline from afar.

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Liberty Island (Statue of Liberty)

Located in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American freedom. The 305-foot-tall copper statue actually isn’t as impressive looking at it from Liberty Island as you might think though. Half of the size is actually the massive platform beneath Lady Liberty. Again, long lines and crowds can spoil your experience. 

To get a real sense of the Statue of Liberty’s majesty from afar, take the free Staten Island Ferry – you’ll be able to admire the skyline Lower Manhattan views as well. 

Want a truly extra special NYC experience? You can’t miss our 4th of July Fireworks Dinner Cruise, boasting boundless views of Lady Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, and all the celebratory fireworks.

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Double Decker Bus Tours

Open-top buses are in every city. Although it might be tempting to just hop on the bus and sit comfortably, we advise you not to do that in NYC. 

The traffic in Manhattan is bad and you’ll likely be sitting still for hours. Not to mention the potential for bad weather and not such good company if you’re seated next to someone obnoxious. 

In reality, New York is a city best explored on foot. 

Even if you miss some popular spots by walking, you’ll be able to stumble upon something new and interesting instead. You’ll get a real feeling of the city and its vibrant atmosphere.

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Dining in Touristy Venues

The culinary scene in New York is enormous and diverse. You can try food from every corner of the world! But, to be able to really savor it, you should avoid tourist traps and ask locals for tips instead.

Some of the iconic NYC restaurants are terribly hyped-up, leaving you hungry and disappointed. One of these is a popular Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel. Once a charming venue, attracting the likes of John Lennon as well as ordinary New Yorkers, now it resembles a run-down mausoleum. And the overpriced food is not tasty either.

Another classic but on a different level are Dirty-water dogs. You might be tempted to try hot dogs from street carts with blue and yellow umbrellas to feel like a real New Yorker, but they really only look and taste good in the movies. Trust us!

Instead of these overrated options, check out our Food & Wine Experiences in NYC that highlight the true culinary genius of our eclectic city. Access the famous chefs and exclusive dining experiences that make New York so exceptional.

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Located in the heart of already jammed Times Square, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is tacky, filled with long lines, and offers wax statues not resembling real people. It’s overrated and simply not worth spending your time and money. 

Sure, seeing statues of famous musicians, A-list stars, world leaders, and sports legends may sound like fun, but this is not a unique experience that will show off the real New York. 

There are far more interesting museums to discover including the Natural History Museum, the MET, the MOMA and Whitney. Or check out our Private NYC Gallery & Museum Experiences for exclusive access to the city’s top cultural venues.​​ You never know, you might actually run into a real celebrity there.

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Riding in a Horse-Drawn Carriage Around Central Park

Central Park, although crowded, is an impressive must-see spot in New York. We recommend exploring it on foot. You might get lost since it’s huge, but that can only contribute to seeing something interesting and unusual during your NYC visit. 

Riding in a horse-drawn carriage is not only bad for the animals (they aren’t usually treated with the care they deserve) but it’s a short 45-minute ride that won’t show you all the attractions of the park. 

Without a doubt, New York is a marvelous city full of bright lights, skyline views, and venues well-worth a visit. But, like any major city, it has its weaknesses in the form of overrated, overcharged places. 

We hope that, thanks to our recommendations, your stay in the Big Apple will be unforgettable. Make it extra special with our VIP access to the city’s top performances, venues, restaurants, and more. Reach out any time so we can help plan your ideal trip.